Living with a Person Who Has a Mental Disorder

About 51 million people in the United States have some form of emotional or mental disorder. Because mental illness is so common, many Americans cope with the day-to-day struggle of sharing a home with a person who is mentally ill. Living with a person who has a mental disorder can be challenging and stressful, and most family members are not adequately prepared for the experience. Many families also fear the stigma that still surrounds many types of mental illness. But effective treatments exist for many mental disorders, and help is readily available. The first step in dealing with a loved one's problems is to recognize the warning signs of a mental disorder:

  • confused thinking
  • long periods of depression
  • extreme mood swings (from elation to sadness)
  • high levels of fear, worry, or anxiety
  • withdrawal from people and activities
  • significant changes in eating or sleeping habits
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